‘The Mortal Instruments’ Cast Talks Lily & Jamie’s Chemistry

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Screen Gems

Screen Gems

Love is in the air. No, not just because of Valentine’s Day — unless you’re referring to Valentine Morgenstern, hehe — but because of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, too. This past Saturday, we revealed the first-ever still of Robert Sheehan as Simon Lewis as part of TMI‘s week of “Mortal Love,” which kicked off the same day. Now, to go even further with our obsession, we’re giving you the first piece of our interviews with the cast!

Prior to the movie wrapping up filming, we visited the Toronto set back in October 2012 and chatted with stars Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, author Cassandra Clare, and more of the cast and crew. Since it’s the most romantic day of the year and all, get a taste of what we talked about while on location with their juiciest tidbits on Lily and Jamie’s chemistry, the film’s love triangle, plus tidbits on those who weren’t in love with the idea of Jamie playing Jace Wayland:

Teen: As the author of the series, what were your feelings when you first saw Jamie and Lily together during their audition together?
Cassandra Clare: It was really embarrassing. I cried, I was so happy. We had been looking for Jace; it was an ordeal process. Every young, blond actor in Hollywood tried out and Lily, bless her soul, went in over and over for chemistry reads with people, and Jace is a tough character. He is a guy who covers up his vulnerability and is real personality with a lot of layers of just being a jerk. If you play him wrong, he’ll just come out as a jerk, but if you play him right, he comes across as “I’ll use my wit to hide my broken heart and my pain and I’m vulnerable and love me.” Nobody was quite hitting that, so Lily did all these chemistry reads with all these different people and I was starting to think “Maybe no one can play this role; maybe I have written a bizarre character that cannot be played.”

Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare

And then Jamie came in… off a long flight from London and literally just came straight in to the studio in his jeans and shirt and he auditioned with Lily and it was amazing. He knocked it out of the park, he was terrific. He was funny when he needed to be funny; he was vulnerable when he needed to be vulnerable and he got across all of the layers of what was going on with the character pretty effortlessly and I could tell. Sony called me up and told me they were going to send me an audition tape and it’s Jamie Campbell Bower and I thought “Oh, the little guy from Sweeney Todd… really?” They said, “Don’t make any assumptions, that was many years ago, just watch it.” And I said, “I’ll watch it with an open mind.” So I started watching it and I was sitting there as they were just reading off literally the dialogue from the books and I just started to cry because I was like, those are my characters. It was perfect. So from then on I was completely cemented — I love Jamie and didn’t want anybody else.

Teen: Which scene were they testing with?
Cassandra: It was a set of scenes. I hope I’m not getting this wrong, but I believe it’s the first time they talk and he sort of explains what a Shadowhunter is. Then it was a romantic scene and then it was a scene in which they fight. We were just trying to display the range of chemistry they can have.

Teen: Do you two, [Lily and Jamie,] remember your chemistry test?
Lily Collins: This was about two years ago now. I read with a couple of different guys that had come in. Jamie just came in and… that was it. He was just himself. He had this perfect mixture of being this witty, kind of jokey, cocky — in the best sense of the word — but also extremely vulnerable, emotional and this great mixture of emotions. And that’s what Jace is. He has to walk in a room and make people turn their heads and that’s what Jamie does. He’s been so dedicated to the stunts and he’s been so dedicated to proving what he can bring in the role and what he is capable of. But he doesn’t even need to try. And again, that’s who Jace is. He’s effortless, so I got all that in the room. I didn’t get the stunts part, obviously, because we didn’t do stunts, but he just brought everything to the room that day. And he left and I just turned to everyone and was like, “I really don’t know what else you could be looking for. That’s Jace.” When you get that kind of guttural instinct, I think you have to go with it. I’m so excited for everyone to see what he’s done.

Jamie Campbell Bower: I think I walked into that audition; I walked into that camera test knowing that I wasn’t necessarily the person that they wanted to go for and that’s a hard room to walk into. That’s ****ing tough. So I had to go in there and I had to be able to a) prove myself and b) there had to be something more; there had to be this, like — it was funny because it happened without sort of looking for it. Like, Lily and I just automatically clicked and these two characters just came out of us and it was like we had known each other for years, it was so weird. We watched back the camera tests… gosh, when we first started shooting, so maybe three months ago. And we both looked — I was bloated, I was fat, I’m surprised anybody wanted me to walk into that room and we’re both in completely different places, but this connection was there and that’s an amazing, amazing thing to have. I think that’s great for the movie and I think above anything what I was really drawn to in this story is… this is ultimately this love story and I think that’s a lot of things we see in popular culture nowadays, and things that have succeeded throughout time, I think that’s what’s happened here, like Romeo and Juliet and, you know, well you’ve heard of movies, not to mention one but Twilight. That was so successful because people invested in the love between these two characters and that’s what I want them to have with this. Yes, there’s a lot of other s*** that’s going on, but that’s what I want them to.

Teen: That was before filming. Can you talk a little more about the romance within the movie itself?
Lily: There’s romance in the story. That is obviously Simon, Jace and Clary, but it’s not a movie about a love triangle. Every character has a relationship with every other character in this. The romance is only one portion of this kind of epic adventure. And yes, it fuels certain scenes and it’s an undertone, but it’s in no way a love story that has action in it. It’s a full-blown action/adventure fantasy film that is based in reality that has this romance in it. I think from the first draft to now, it’s definitely got a lot more of that, kind of propelling-you-forward, less of a romantic kind of teen flick, if you will. It also has a lot more humor than the first draft because Cassandra’s writing… That’s the beauty of the writing, is that you end up giggling when you’re reading it because of something Simon said or Jace is so cocky, you’re like, “Did he really just say that?” They’ve added some of those lines back in, so there is a comedic tone to these dark moments that kind of makes the audience relax for a second. And they are witty, so we have a lot more of Cassie’s voice back into it.

Screen Gems

Screen Gems

Teen: How is it working with Jamie? Do you think fans will appreciate him as Jace?
Robert Kulzer (producer): Yeah. Interesting young man. He responded very, very strongly to the Jace character. Where he had a vision of this guy and he had a hard time because, you know, as much as [the fans] embraced Lily and also some of the other cast members that we cast later on, the fans immediately went love it, love it, love it, love it. With Jace, they were always a bit, “Oh, but he’s not a Jace.” You know, “Jamie, he’s not a Jace.” And he said they haven’t seen anything yet… He has — there’s an evangelic, otherworldly quality that he created that knocks your socks off. You know, I think he is emulating the character so much that, obviously, now I don’t even know the difference anymore between Jamie Campbell Bower and Jace. But I think he knew that he had it in him. And when we add the two of them together, Lily and Jamie, we felt it very strongly. We felt like, “Whoa, this is not acting; this is real stuff.”

Don Carmody (producer): Obviously there’s chemistry, but he also one of the hardest working kids. I mean he’s been in training for eight months.

Screen Gems

Screen Gems

Teen: How much are you looking at what fans are saying?
Jamie: I think at the beginning I was very much aware of what was being said, whether it be positive or negative; predominately negative. That’s something that you’ve gotta deal with. I have to appreciate the fact that this is a series of books that people have already encountered and people… will already have preconceived notions about who the characters are and I have to respect that and be able to bring some of those qualities that they believe the character to have to the movie, while still sticking true to how I feel. Did it affect me? F*** yeah, of course it affected me. I’d be a cold, heartless and self-absorbed person to have it not, but it made me want to prove to these people that say I can’t do this that I really can. If I can win over 50% of the people who said that I couldn’t do this or didn’t want me to do this, then I feel like I’ve done my job.

Stay tuned for more on-set interviews and exclusives with the cast on Teen.com! Now that you’ve learned more about Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower during shooting, what do you think of them playing Clary and Jace? Tell us your opinions, and make sure to check out The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones in theaters on August 23, 2013!

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  • Katherine

    I mean I really gotta hand it out to them… I loved this movie, I could consider it my favorite movie.. Both of them nailed their role and I knew they could’ve done this.. I knew that they would nail it.. LOVED THOS MOVIE..

  • Ankit

    – Oh, I’m definitely paoansiste about reading good clean books. I have a whole blog about it! =) I don’t read the bad books though; I only post the clean ones. But I am thankful for those who do read the bad books and post the content rating. Thanks for the tip on Rated Reads. I’ll definitely use that one.I also use My blog is

  • Georgah

    AWESOME I FREAKING LOVE IT!!!!!! And Jamie I am part of that 50% you won over. I seriosuly thought u couldn’t do it But after hearing and reading about how much you have worked to get Jace right I say you can! ROCK ON JAMIE! <3 u

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  • Keerin

    I am really extraordinarily pleased with the casting and work I’ve seen done so far on this series. I am a huge fan of the books!!! That being said, I saw Jamie and thought he was quite unexpected but I had a good feeling about it, honestly and truly. Now that I’m seeing the bits and pieces being talked about and shown, I really think he is the Jace for the job. Casting is always hard because book characters look and feel a little different to every reader, but I’d seriously kick my Jace out and stick Jamie in. He’s gonna do fantastic, as will the rest of the lovely cast. :) Hope the positive comments outweigh the negatives, Jamie!

  • Daya

    Yeah my expectations have grown to extremes and i dont want that cuz if i see it in theaters and its not as good as i expected then i would be disappointed, but im i sure i wont and anyways i will always love the mortal instruments serie!!

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  • Noelle

    Los libros siempre serán insuperables y muy dificiles de plasmar en la pantalla grande. Visualmente, en la adaptacion, solo me gustan Godfrey como Magnus y Robert como Simon. El resto carece de muchos detalles, que como lectora son muy importante para mi y la actuación no puede compensar. Pero en fin, asi son las cosas y me quedo con mi imaginación y con los personajes de los libros.
    Las adaptaciones decepcionan en muchos sentidos a los lectores, pero debemos aprender que no se puede lograr todo.

  • Tessa

    Those people posting negative comments must know nothing about the books. Every actor is perfect. Even Cassandra said so. She wrote the book, and she knows what the characters should look like and act like. She was crying because she was so happy, her books have become something she probrably only dreamed about. She does not need her fandom saying stuff like Jamie can’t pull of Jace. Jace is a compicated character. He can love one minute and kill the next. Jamie has a hard character. But, from what Cassandra and Lily said and from what I seen. I believe Jamie is going to make a amazing Jace.

    • catrina

      Yep I agree

    • kay

      I originally read the books thinking Alex P. will be the one playing Jace. To be honest I gave up following the movie after the casting of Jace. until of course I saw the trailer.

      Seeing JACE actually breathing through JAIME now I think, no wonder why they wanted Jaime for the role. He is pretty cool! Cant wait until August!

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  • Carrie

    I remember seeing those negative comments in the fandom, and some still persist. A lot of people wanted an actor who looked more like the coverart of the book, or the actual model from the book. But a bookcover is about looks, it’s designed to draw you in, not entertain you. A film is very different, yes, the actors need to physically represent the characters, but much more importantly, they need to be able to bring the characters to life.

    No one fell in love with the Jace character because he had blond hair and golden eyes and high cheekbones. Readers fell in love with him because he was witty, stotic, confident and vunerable in brief flashes. All traits that were shown through the writing, and in the film will be shown through the acting. The filmmakers hired the best actor for the job, and I applaud them for it. Forget 50%, I think all of the fandom will come around when they see the movie on screen.

    • Marvel

      Thanks! I have been looking onnile, but all I could find were the kinds that were too obviously folky and not like yours :) It would be the perfect summer bag!!!

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  • Remy

    I don’t know where the negative comments have come from, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the casting. Every actor is how i imagined the Character, especially Godfrey as Magnus! And Jamie is perfect for Jace. People who say otherwise are talking out of their ass and don’t know the books as well as they pretend they do.

  • Irina

    At the begining i wasn’t really sure about the cast because i had already read the books a few years ago and its hard to see a book character being portrait by a real person but once the first still came out and the trailer you get convinced and before watching that you already trust on the cast a)because you re-read the books and picture them as the character and b) because if they got casted it was because they are great actors and are the best for the job.So on conclusion i love the cast,i think is perfect and if the fans are proud to see this series on the big screen i can’t imagine how Cassie most feel.Can’t wait for the movie,seriously we need it,like right now

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  • Vee

    Jace is a very distinctive character. The fandom WOULD react half-heartedly to just about any actor being cast. But I believe he’s gonna nail it.
    Cheers, fellow Shadowhunters!